Arbitrator ruling ends more than two years of bargaining strife for AHS GSS

EDMONTON – Independent arbitrator Phyllis Smith yesterday awarded Alberta Union of Provincial Employees’ General Support Services (GSS) members a three-year contract, ending more than two years of contentious negotiations.

The agreement, retroactive to April 1, 2014, will see the more than 23,000 employees of Alberta Health Services receive a two per cent wage increase in the first year and second year and a one per cent increase in year three. Members were also awarded an increase to their flex health spending account.

“While not all of AUPE’s proposals were accepted by the arbitrator, we acknowledge the ruling and accept this long-awaited agreement for these members,” said AUPE president Guy Smith.

“It’s unfortunate a fair deal couldn’t be reached at the bargaining table where it should have. Since negotiations began, the employer’s treatment of these members, who are mostly women working part-time, has been discouraging.

“This process stretched more than two years, through two rounds of mediation, two labour board complaints against the employer and binding arbitration. Time and again AHS failed to come to the table with a reasonable mandate. That led to frustration, angst and anger toward AHS and by extension, the provincial government.

“The union is hopeful fair agreements can be reached in other health-care negotiations currently underway,” Smith said.

Both sides presented hours of testimony at arbitration hearings held over three days in February. Many factors including economic conditions, labour-market comparators and the work these AUPE members do were weighed.

AHS GSS members fight superbugs, manage health records, prepare meals, are IT professionals, manage finances, maintain facilities, sterilize surgical tools, assist pharmacists and therapists, are specialized tradespersons, provide security and much more.

AUPE represents close to 50,000 health-care staff province-wide who work in public, private and non-profit health care.

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For more information:

Guy Smith, AUPE president: 780-265-2294